Japan's Wonders: Discover The "Lowest" Mountain Ever
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History of Tenpozan – Japan’s “lowest” mountain in Osaka
Mount Tenpō was formed in 1831 (Tenpō year 2) as the deposit for earth dug up from dredging the Ajigawa river to allow easier access to Osaka for large ships and to prevent floods. The mountain had an elevation of about 20 meters at the time, and served as a marker for ships entering the Ajigawa river to head to the city of Osaka. Cherry blossom and pine trees were planted on the mountain as people began to set up shops in the area, and the mountain gradually became the visitor attraction that it is now. Images of children playing in this area were sketched in ukiyo-e by Utagawa Hiroshige and other artists.
|The mountain is so subtle, you'd never find it without the brightly-colored sign. Photo: Japan travel|
Part of the mountain was leveled to set up an artillery unit to protect the river pass after the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate. As industrialization progressed in the Taishō and Shōwa periods, overuse of groundwater resulted in subsidence, lowering the mountain's elevation even further. This caused the mountain's name to be erased from topographic maps until it was reinstated due to fierce protests from local residents.
Why is it considered to be “Japan’s attraction”?
|There’s even a marker designating the triangular peak of the mountain. Photo: soranews24|
Originally around 20 meters, the summit is now 4.53 meters above sea level and significantly lower than other parts of Tenpozan Park. The park is a few minutes' walk from Osakako Station (on the Chuo Subway Line); it's almost directly at the foot of Tenpozan Ferris Wheel, next to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
It's such an insignificant spot that it needs a sign to point out where it actually is, but it is officially considered a mountain. If it's included on a map published by the Geographical Survey Institute of Japan, then it counts. It actually used to be Japan's lowest mountain, but it was recently replaced by Hiyoriyama in the northeastern region of Tohoku. Both have interesting tales behind them, and visiting it will make another for you to tell when you return from your travels. While you're there you can visit the aquarium and Ferris wheel; you can even get proof of your ascent from the Mt. Tenpo Expedition Society.
The start of the walking course that takes you to the top of Mt. Tempo is just a 10-minute stroll from Osaka Minato Station. That just happens to be the closest station to Osaka’s aquarium, one of the city’s most-visited tourist attractions. However, Osaka Minato Station is also just a short walk from the harbor, and anyone who’s been there will tell you there’s no towering mountain range nearby.
The Society's website still states that they are based in a small cafe, but this appears to have closed. You can ask at the shop which is at the same location, but there may not be anyone available. However, the Society still has a mailbox at the same location, south of Osakako Station. Their website shows the location - near Exit 4, just past a Family Mart convenience store. When you find it, there should be paper and a pencil on a string. Just write the date, your name, address in Japan and how many people made the ascent, then wrap ¥100 plus ¥10 per person inside the paper and post it in the mailbox. They only mail certificates within Japan, but it seems they're quick in sending them, so if you're in Japan for a while, you could have it sent to your hotel or hostel.
Other places to see around Mount. Tenpo
Mount Tenpō Park
|Photo: Wikimedia Commons|
The mountain's surface is currently known as Mount Tenpō Park. Surrounded by a large levee, the park itself contains large hills (the deposits for earth dug up in constructing underground train tunnels) which have much higher elevations than the actual "peak" of the mountain.
A stone memorial of the Meiji Emperor's first sea-borne military parade in 1876 is located next to the triangular peak of the mountain. The park's clock-tower was originally a prop for a television show produced by the Kansai Telecasting Corporation, but was later donated to the prefecture. The park contains several art depicting the area during the Edo period.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
|Photo: Travel Guide|
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is located in the Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka's bay area, and is one of Japan's most spectacular aquariums. It introduces various forms of life inhabiting the Pacific Rim in a well organized and impressive way.
Marine life is displayed in 15 tanks, each representing a specific region of the Pacific Rim. The central tank, representing the Pacifc Ocean, is nine meters deep and home to a whale shark, the aquarium's main attraction.
Visitors start their tour of the aquarium on the 8th floor and slowly spiral down floor by floor around the central tank. Some of the tanks stretch over several floors, making it possible to observe the animals from different depths and perspectives. New exhibition space was added to the aquarium in March 2013.
Suntory Museum of Art
The Suntory Museum of Art (サントリー 美術館, Santorī Bijutsukan) is an arts museum located in Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi, Tokyo. It is owned by the Suntory corporation. The collection theme of the art works is "Art in life" and they mainly have Japanese antiques.
In 1961, Suntory President Keizo Saji opened the Suntory Museum in the Palace Building in Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo with the theme of "Art in life". In 1975, it was moved to Suntory Building in Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo. It was temporarily closed in November 2019, renovated, and reopened in July 2020. As a result, the ceiling was made more earthquake-resistant, the indoor lighting was changed to LED, and the entrance, shops and cafes adjacent to the building, and staff uniforms were renewed. The design of the renewal was supervised by Kengo Kuma, who designed the Tokyo Midtown Garden Site, where the museum is located, and the museum. The Suntory Museum of Art, Mori Art Museum and The National Art Center, Tokyo, comprise the "Roppongi Art Triangle"
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